Good solutions II

A good solution accepts also the limitations of discipline. Agricultural problems should receive solutions that are agricultural, not technological or economic.

This second of 14 entries listing Berry’s good solutions that allow for “solving for pattern” probably provokes controversy. We want to solve every problem using technology or economics. But if the problem is pedagogical (i.e. having to do with teaching), then to solve it technologically isn’t possible. The problem in America’s schools is not that we don’t have the means to get information into children’s hands. It is that we don’t know the purpose of education. And we don’t know the purpose of education because we don’t know what a human being is. Until we figure that out, no amount of technology can solve our education problems.

I would recommend a close reading of the Protagoras and The Gorgias and a little more critical approach to the way Nietzsche intimidates the half-educated that govern our philosophy departments and from them our school administration. Our half-baked nihilism is neither necessary nor a good idea. And it isn’t very compelling to people who can read The Bully Anti-philosopher with a spine.

Good Solutions I

Picking up on this earlier post, and this one too, here is the first of Berry’s principles for a good solution:

A good solution accepts given limits, using so far as is possible what is at hand. The farther fetched the solution, the less it should be trusted…. Enlarging scale is a deceptive solution; it solves one problem by acquiring another, or several others.

Here is one of those pieces of common sense that is so very hard to apply in one’s own circumstances. The problem of scale is especially pernicious in a money culture like ours. If we have a problem, the solution is to get more money and resources. But that is not the case if the scale of the solution blows the problem to smithereens.

 We must learn to accept limits and use the resources at hand. Otherwise we might find ourselves committing acts of madness: unspeakable acts – like taking on debt.